Grab a full Irish Breakfast
With your head likely to be thumping from the night before, sort yourself out with a traditional breakfast. This is not an everyday thing for locals (it’s more of a Sunday brunch) and you’ll quickly see why, as you dig into a feast of sausage, bacon, eggs, toast, tomatoes, beans, coffee, hash browns and the notorious blood sausage (known locally as black pudding). You won’t have to travel far to find an establishment offering it.
Swim in the sea
It’s one of those things that’s embedded in the Irish psyche: slightly silly, borderline inappropriate behaviour in the name of fun. Much of what goes on at the famous sea-swimming spot the 40 Foot can probably be put down to that fun-loving cheekiness: it’s become a gathering point for any occasion, with locals chucking themselves into the freezing water, and occasionally finding themselves in amongst the seals. At least they’re doing it clothed these days!
Walk a sea road
To be fair, Poolbeg is probably more a sea wall than a sea road, but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re walking hundreds of metres out into the Irish Sea on a narrow strip of concrete. The route starts close to the traditional marker for Dublin port, Poolbeg, which is made up of two tall striped towers in the east of the city. A 20-minute stroll – sometimes amid lashing spray – will bring you out to a red lighthouse and perfect views of the bay. We don’t recommend it if the weather’s particularly bad, obviously.
Hit the hills
Are we overdoing the healthy here? There’s nothing wrong with starting off the year right, and Dublin has the perfect location on its doorstep. From the Dublin Mountains to the Wicklow National Park (essentially two different parts of the same range of very manageable hills), you can check out spots from ancient pilgrim settlement Glendalough, spooky old house the Hellfire Club, and even the entire Wicklow Way (though you’re going to need a few days for that last one). Stroll on!
Dig into Dublin New Year’s Festival
The first day of the turn-of-the-year festive event is about gigs, lights, and celebration. The second day is more of a family-themed, chilled-out offering in the same location, Custom House Quay. Expect stilt walkers, flyboarders, jugglers, mime artists, face-painting and other street performers. A nice, slow-paced, kid-friendly intro to the New Year.
Soak up the Christmas circus
Fossett’s Circus has been around Ireland for years, and will camp out in the suburb of Tallaght for Christmas. The two-hour seasonal show is hosted in a traditional big top, and runs into early January. The show takes in acrobatics, performing dogs, knife-throwing, a motorcycle riding on a high wire, juggling, horse tricks and (naturally) clowns. They’re on their 129th national tour.
Try some great local food
Irish food is known more for its raw ingredients, internationally speaking, than its final products (and it’s true that the steak, salmon, oysters, strawberries and butter are particularly exceptional). The quality of local restaurants has risen dramatically in recent years, though, with plenty specialising in local cuisine such as coddle (hotpot stew), or taking advantage of the good-quality beef. Here are a few great picks for a quieter second night out.
Take in some high-level rugby
Three times European champions Leinster, who represent the eastern counties of Ireland, contain ample Irish internationals, and are serious challengers at the peak of their league, which also features teams from Wales, Scotland, Italy and South Africa. It’s a homegrown contest on offer for New Year’s Day, though, as they face off against western side Connacht at the beautiful RDS.
Take in the National Concert Hall
Ireland’s classiest venue has a constant rotation of events, and its the National Symphony Orchestra are taking centre stage on 1 January. Their New Year’s celebration at the National Concert Hall has a programme focusing on classics by Strauss. As well as the international class orchestra, the venue itself is well worth an explore, too.
Grab a quiet hot whiskey
It’s pretty difficult to visit Dublin without getting heavily involved in the local pub culture, but as you’ll probably have gone big the night before, this is more a wind-down thing. For all the international hype about Irish coffee, it’s probably the hot whiskey that gets more winter love locally. It’s a well-known ‘cure’ for anything from a cold to a headache, and a nice excuse to ease the cold out of your limbs and grab a spot by the pub fire, as you inhale the traditional lemon and cloves thrown into your whiskey and hot water.